Joseph Goebbels: A Guide to Propaganda

Good propaganda does not need to lie, indeed it may not lie. It has no reason to fear the truth. It is a mistake to believe that the people cannot take the truth. They can. It is only a matter of presenting the truth to people in a way that they will be able to understand. A propaganda that lies proves that it has a bad cause. It cannot be successful in the long run.”


It is not only a matter of doing the right thing; the people must understand that the right thing is the right thing. Propaganda includes everything that helps the people to realize this.

A good propaganda will always come along that serves a good cause. But propaganda is still necessary if a good cause is to succeed. A good idea does not win simply because it is good. It must be presented properly if it is to win.

Political propaganda in principle is active and revolutionary. It is aimed at the broad masses. It speaks the language of the people because it wants to be understood by the people. Its task is the highest creative art of putting sometimes complicated events and facts in a way simple enough to be understood by the man on the street. Its foundation is that there is nothing the people cannot understand, but rather things must be put in a way that they can understand. It is a question of making it clear to him by using the proper approach, evidence, and language.

Propaganda is a means to an end. Its purpose is to lead the people to an understanding that will allow it to willingly and without internal resistance devote itself to the tasks and goals of a superior leadership. If propaganda is to succeed, it must know what it wants. It must keep a clear and firm goal in mind, and seek the appropriate means and methods to reach that goal. Propaganda as such is neither good nor evil. Its moral value is determined by the goals it seeks.

It was our sharpest weapon in conquering the state. It remains our sharpest weapon in defending and building the state. The great wealth of ideas and never failing creativity of our propaganda, proven during our struggle for power, was perfected to the last detail.

The people should share the concerns and successes of its government.Its concerns and successes must therefore be constantly presented and hammered into the people so that it will consider the concerns and successes of its government to be its concerns and successes. [applied to our movement, this could mean highlighting our victories, however small, in order to instill hope in our followers]

The people must be understood in its deepest depths, or intuitively understood, for only then can one speak in a way that the people will understand. Propaganda must be the science of the soul of the people. It requires an organized and purposeful system if it is to be successful in the long run.

Propaganda, too, has a system. It cannot be stopped and started whenever one wishes. In the long run, it can only be effective in the service of great ideals and far-seeing principles. And propaganda must be learned. It must be led only by people with a fine and sure instinct for the often changeable feelings of the people. They must be able to reach into the world of the broad masses and draw out their wishes and hopes. The effective propagandist must be a master of the art of speech, of writing, of journalism, of the poster, and of the leaflet. He must have the gift to use the major methods of influencing public opinion such as the press, film, and radio[the internet] to serve his ideas and goals.

This is particularly necessary in a day when technology is advancing. Radio is already an invention of the past, since television will probably soon arrive. On the one hand successful propaganda must be a master of these methods of political opinion, but on the other it may not become stale in using them. It must find new ways and methods every day to reach success. The technology of propaganda has changed greatly in recent years, but the art of propaganda has remained the same.

Only when all means of propaganda are concentrated and their unified application assured is it possible to carry out major educational and propaganda battles, the hunt for popularity usually leads to nothing other than concealing the truth and speaking nonsense.[i.e. “it’s not the Jews, it’s the Zionists!”] One dares not say what is right, and what one does say leads to disaster. But that is presumably what the people want. One no longer has the courage to say unpopular things, much less do them. The result is that major European problems are lost in useless debates while political, economic, and social crises of unprecedented magnitude face the nations.

There are times when statesmen must have the courage to do something unpopular. But their unpopular actions must be properly prepared, and must be put in the proper form, so that their peoples will understand. The man on the street is usually not as unreasonable as some think. Since it is he who usually has to bear the heaviest burdens that result from unpopular policies, he at least has a right to know why things are being done this way and not that way. All practical politics depends on its persuasiveness. It is no sign of wise leadership to acquaint the nation with hard facts over night.

Each situation brings new challenges. And each task requires the support of the people, which can only be gained by untiring propaganda that brings the broad masses knowledge and clarity. No area of public life can do without it. It is the never resting force behind public opinion. It must maintain an unbroken relationship between leadership and people. Every means of technology must be put in its service; the goal is to form the mass will and to give it meaning, purpose, and goals that will enable us to learn from past failures and mistakes…

May the bright flame of our enthusiasm never fade. It alone gives light and warmth to the creative art of modern political propaganda. Its roots are in the people.

Read the full text: Goebbels at Nuremberg 1934

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